Wondering if the MFA in Products of Design program might be right for you? Most prospective students, professionals, journalists, and recruiters taking a look at our program have a lot of questions about what makes it different. They want to know who it attracts, what the curriculum and experience are like, and what our students do after they graduate. So we put together a list of the program's 14 key ingredients.
Farmhand is a service that helps farmers and local food producers make their dream projects a reality. Created by designers Vidhi Goel, Lance Green, and Julia Plevin, this Kickstarter-meets-Good Eggs company gets food projects funded through crowdsourcing. Farmhand is designed to make uploading projects—and supporting those projects—frictionless and easy.
The United States, along with Liberia and Myanmar, are the only countries in the world that have not adopted the International (metric) System. That system, however, was only created in the 18th century, and became widely adopted only in the 20th century. So what were the standards before that? In the Markmaking and the Graphic Narrative class, Brazilian designer Leila Santiago created a book of illustrations introducing some of these ancient measurements. Focusing on those based on the human body, the project was inspired by the designer's experiences as a foreign designer learning a new measurement system in the US.
Scentury, designed by Tahnee Pantig, is a product that offers immersive, visceral memory experiences through the use of scent. Created for the program's Affirming Artifacts class, Tahnee was inspired by emerging research—beyond the anecdotal—showing the strong relationship between our sense of smell and our memories and emotions. (Some scientists attribute this to the close proximity of the olfactory bulb to the amygdala and the hippocampus—two areas of the brain responsible for processing memory and emotion.)
In the class Design for Sustainability and Resilience, taught by Claire Hartten and Kathleen Bakewell, students partnered with the Community League of the Heights, a non-profit based in Washington Heights, to develop architectural solutions for an empty plot of land that the Community League—otherwise known as CLOTH—possessed. CLOTH’s mission is to empower the residents of Washington Heights; in pursuit of this goal, CLOTH operates a school that teaches grades 6 through 12, provides housing for low-income residents, and operates a food pantry that operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and serves over 500 families a week.
Designed by Class of 2015 student Berk İlhan, Göz is a family of smart, home-monitoring devices aimed at making the bathroom a safer place. Göz consists three elements: a smart, motion-detecting LED bulb, a smart, motion-detecting bathtub drain, and a companion app and platform. The smart bulb detects falls in the bathroom and then calls for help, and the smart bathtub drain detects falls, or lack of motion in the tub area, and automatically pops up to drain the bathtub, preventing drowning.
Responding to the brief “to design a growth startup built upon the platform of an existing company” in their Lifecycle and Flows: Better By Measure course, designers Andres Iglesias, Brandon Washington, and Lucy Knops looked at Nest—creators of the smart thermostat, along with other innovative home monitoring devices. Through system mapping, the team identified two gaps in Nest’s business model and created a new, speculative platform: RADLABS.
The "Infinitum" infinity mirror is an Arduino-powered light table that turns on when items are placed on it, but turns off when they are removed. Designed by Louise-Anne van ‘t Riet as part of her Making Studio course, she wanted to construct a piece of furniture for people who never tidy up, and who leave their belongings everywhere. When objects are placed on the table, it lights up—providing a beautiful backdrop for the artifacts with an illusion of infinite depth. Users are encouraged to tidy up before they leave a room, since the light table will only switch off once everything is removed from its surface.
High Fire is a set of 4 pairs of mittens that need each other. 4 pairs, 4 people, hands raised, all together, and when they high five or join hands, a stream of electricity courses through them, travels down a wire and ignites a candle, instantly symbolizing their communal bond in the form of the warmth of fire in the winter. The object was designed by Natsuki Hayashi in Becky Stern’s Making Studio class in the Products of Design MFA program.
For the Making Studio course in the MFA Products of Design program taught by Becky Stern, Judy Chi uses Arduino software to bring together two areas of technology—soft robotics and bio-mimicry—in order to create "Wave", a soft robot inch worm.